A solicitor who played a leading role in successfully challenging the last government’s Rwanda removals policy was among the winners on the biggest night in the legal aid calendar.

Toufique Hossain, director of public law at national firm Duncan Lewis, picked up the award for ‘outstanding achievement’ at the Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Awards last Friday. The awards are organised by the Legal Aid Practitioners Group and the winners are announced during a ceremony in central London.

Hossain’s team represented six of the lead claimants in the Supreme Court case which unanimously found the Conservative government’s plan for sending asylum seekers to Rwanda to be unlawful.

Ceremony host and journalist Symeon Brown described the Rwanda litigation as a ‘legal case more highly contested than any other litigation’ which required ‘not just legal brilliance but hope, resources, relentless spirit… sheer bloody mindedness too, and also personal courage’.

LALY24 Toufique Hossain

Toufique Hossain picked up the award for ‘outstanding achievement’

Accepting his award, Hossain thanked his legal team and his family. Urging the new government to be brave, he said ‘governing without cruelty is possible, it has to be’. He added: ‘Tomorrow our pre-action letters will be drafted with the same passion as those we represent, just hopefully not as often.’

Other winners on the night included Gledhill Solicitors’ Tam Gill, who picked up the Disability Rights Award. Gill represents clients at mental health tribunals and one client said she was the ‘glue that held me together’.

Islington Law Centre’s Esme Madill won the Social Welfare Law Award. She is the driving force behind Breaking the Chains, which supports Albanian children seeking asylum in the UK. One young person said: ‘She treats all of us young people as if we were her own children.’

A client said of Birmingham-based immigration practice TRP Solicitors, which won the regional legal aid firm/not-for-profit agency award: ‘They saved my case, my life and my daughter’s life.’

Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Awards 2024: winners

Legal Aid Newcomer – Ollie Persey, Garden Court Chambers


Legal Aid Support Staffer/Support Team – family billing team, AFG Law


Housing Law – Rose Pritchard, Community Law Partnership


Criminal Defence – Amy Cox, Sonn Macmillan Walker Solicitors


Legal Aid Barrister – Mani Singh Basi, 4PB


Family Legal Aid including Children’s Rights – Jenny Newton, TV Edwards


Disability Rights – Tam Gill, Gledhill Gill Solicitors


Social Welfare Law – Esme Madill, Islington Law Centre


Legal Aid Firm/Not-For-Profit Agency – Public Interest Law Centre


Regional Legal Aid Firm/Not-For-Profit Agency – TRP Solicitors


Public Law – Sophie Naftalin, Bhatt Murphy


Outstanding Achievement – Toufique Hossain, Duncan Lewis

This article is now closed for comment.